Over the course of the last several months, the COVID-19 virus has forced many workers to their homes in order to continue to do their jobs. Now that many employers are beginning to implement plans to return employees back to their facilities, some of you may be reconsidering your employment situation. More specifically, you may be starting to think about whether it will make sense to look for a new job that allows you to continue to work from home.
While no one, at this point, knows for sure where this pandemic will go over the course of 2020 (and beyond?), it is clear that as many employers are beginning to return workers back on-site, others are re-considering their previous policy which limited or prohibited working from home. For many employers, they have found that they can have productive workers at home and potentially save in the long run on expenses, such as building space, parking, etc.
If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is abandoning their COVID work from home program, but you would like to continue this arrangement, then finding new employment may be right for you. I would highly recommend; however, you first do a thorough review regarding why you want to work from home and what you want to achieve by moving in this direction.
There are many reasons why you may want to work from home. Among these very viable reasons include a shorter commute saving you time and smaller expenses in terms of lunch, fuel, and work clothes (depending on policy). It can also be extremely helpful for those with children, in terms of being home when the bus arrives or getting out to attend school related events. Working from home should not be done due to a perception that you can work less or not as hard (no one is visually watching). It also should not be used to watch your children and save on childcare. Quite honestly, in my personal experience with working from home, I find that I work more due to losing track of time as I am plugging away on an assignment.
There is a difference in doing something in the short-term, especially when everyone else is doing it and continuing the practice. As nice as the work/life balance is right now, will it be as important once schools (we hope!) start back up again. Do a self-assessment and determine how much you will miss the social interaction of being in the office around people. I have met many people who talk about how much they want to work from home, but I know (in the long-term) they will be miserable because they crave the social aspect of work.
If you decide to begin a job search, it is imperative that you ask the right questions during the recruiting process with the prospective employer. Be sure that the position will continue to be “work from home” post-COVID, and that the employer is committed to the program. You may also want to get a sense for just how “casual” or “formal” their standard is going to be. Many employers have been very understanding during the COVID crisis when it comes to noises at home, children running around, and pets making meeting appearances. As someone who has worked some from home pre and during COVID, I can tell you first-hand people are much more understanding of disturbances then they used to be. Whether this continues as the pandemic rolls on or post-vaccine remains to be seen, but I would think things will move somewhat back into the more formal environment.
It is important that you take the correct approach while interviewing for a remote position. As mentioned before, please stay away from explaining how you love not having a Manager watch over you, or that you don’t like working with others. Rather, stress the work/life benefits and how you find yourself more focused and productive while at home. Remember, you want to assure the Hiring Manager is comfortable that you will be a stellar employee while working at home.
It will be interesting to see what the post-COVID world will look like in terms of “work from home” but narrowing yourself to only these remote positions may prove limiting as your career continues to progress. The ability for you to obtain promotional positions or a role in management may be limited to those who physically are in the office (if not 100% of the time, at least a portion of the workweek). Even if you may eventually be OK moving back into the office, you may be losing valuable networking and other exposure opportunities along the way due to your remote status. I would suggest that a discussion with the Hiring Manager related to future opportunities may prove greatly beneficial for all parties.
It will also be important to know how the on-boarding process will work if you accept a remote position with another company. Will you be expected to come in for training? How will you learn the position and the important business partners you will need to know? It will be key to hear that the prospective employer has a plan for you that will make your on-boarding a pleasant and productive experience. You don’t want to leave your current role for a job that you will find it difficult to be successful in.
The decision to leave your current job is one that should only be done after much consideration. A thorough review of the “pros” and “cons” should be done before jumping into a job search or accepting an employment offer. If your primary driver for a new position is the need to have the ability to work from home, then be sure that this reason truly has that high of value to you.
The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional